I was really disappointed to learn that there is yet another proposed bill on the books that is going to affect Oahu farmers. The West Oahu Soil & Water Conservation District met a couple of days ago and discussed that the Committee on Zoning & Planning. Honolulu City Council will hold a hearing on Thursday April 24, 2014 at 9 a.m. to hear Bill 34, introduced by Ikaika Anderson. This bill will have a devastating effect on farmers and soil conservation efforts.
Bill 34 will remove the exclusion from the County grading ordinance, grading by farmers under approved Soil Conservation plans with a Soil & Water Conservation District for any project of more than 50 cubic yards of material.
If this bill becomes law, for any project of more than 50 cubic yards of material, farmers will need permits, will need to pay fee and will need to bond the project.
Let’s put some perspective into this law that puts yet another burden on farmers. What does 50 cubic yards of material look like?
If you take a look at the above picture, 50 cubic yards is basically one large container and a small one. The law is seeking to remove the exemption from farmers for moving material. Is that really a whole lot of material being moved? I don’t think so and the number is so arbitrary. What really is the purpose of removing the exclusion of farmers? Is it to make farming a more attractive business for others to go into?
It’s just really disappointing that our lawmakers come up with this kind of shortsighted laws with no real rationale or idea of the consequences of such actions. It’s funny how the state is talking about how Hawaii supports agriculture and yet propose these kind of actions.
The truth is that we must prefer importing foods because we are going to essentially tie the hands of the people who feed us. If you love local food, say goodbye because it is going to get that much harder for farmers to get it on our tables.